Author Topic: Valen (BG2)  (Read 6467 times)

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Offline Amy

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Valen (BG2)
« on: August 12, 2010, 01:04:40 PM »
By: Mystra's Chosen
Version: Release v41
Review first posted on: October 23, 2004
Review updated:
Mod download location: http://www.weidu.org/valen.html

Apparently, Wes Weimer was a little burnt out from doing the Solaufein mod, so he decided to do a totally different one just for fun. Thereâ??s no romance as far as I know. There are no Valen specific quests, either. Nevertheless, youâ??ll still get pulled in by the story. Well, somewhat. Anyway, moving right along, letâ??s get down to the basicsâ?¦

Valen is a chaotic evil vampiric fighter/thief. She wonâ??t get along with Aerie, Keldorn, Mazzy or LN/LG Anomen. She comes ready to rock with a Helm of Defense, Boots of Stealth, her primary mode of destruction, her claws ( screenshot ), and some special, undroppable armor that keeps her from cooking in the sun (because, as a vampire, ultraviolet light will burn her flesh. Thanks, Blade II.) She also comes with a very unique AI setup, which Iâ??ll go into more detail later. Her stats are as follows:

STR: 18/75
DEX: 17
CON: 9
INT: 16
WIS: 10
CHA: 15

Personality

No NPC is ever complete without some kind of personality. If they didnâ??t have one, theyâ??d just be henchmen (damn NWN!). Valen is, of course, no exception. Iâ??d say thatâ??s the best part of this mod actually. She is very evil, and very chaotic, and when she pops in and says something, almost for certain someone is about to die ( screenshot ). Sheâ??s also unquenchable in her lust for blood and gore. Sheâ??ll push you into a lot of fights, or sheâ??ll just plain up and off someone whoâ??s either annoying her ( screenshot ), or is flaunting their life source about likeâ?¦ ummmâ?¦ well, I canâ??t think of a cogent simile for that. Sheâ??s also rather ambitious, and always on the lookout for profit ( screenshot ).

Her AI, which reflects her personality, is very unique and interesting. For instance, sheâ??ll immediately attack anything hostile within her sight, even when the party AI is turned off. But sheâ??s also cool, collected and intelligent, so sheâ??ll hide in shadows constantly, and then immediately start looking for traps. Bodhi ordered her to make sure the PC stays alive, so this makes perfect sense. But once she gets even a hint that thereâ??s something she can kill nearby, everything goes out the window and she hoofs it over and starts swinginâ?? ( screenshot ). This makes sense, since it fits that a vampire should be practically uncontrollable when thereâ??s fresh meat around. She can also cast Domination ( screenshot ) at will (not at your will; at hers), which gets more powerful as she gains experience. You can turn each option off independently ( screenshot ).

Content

Without getting into too much detail, basically the plot is that Valen is supposed to help you in your â??dealingsâ? with the Shadow Thieves. Once in Spellhold, Bodhi no longer needs Valen, so you get to keep her. Bodhi refuses Valenâ??s pleas to take her back a second time as well ( screenshot ).

Along the way, Valenâ??s innate vampiric abilities (immunities, level drain, etc.) will increase with experience. She moves up the vampire hierarchy from Fledgling to Matriarch. With each upgrade ( screenshot ) she gets a significant increase in her abilities, either by way of better stats, better claws, or better backstab, or all ( screenshot ).

Valen, like all undead, has certain strengths and weaknesses. Namely her weaknesses are: sunlight, anti-undead spells (Sunray, Bolt of Glory, etc.) and items (Mace of Disruption, Azuredge, etc. She can also be burned by â??holyâ? items). She can also be turned by clerics, so if you happen to have a non-evil cleric in your party, then thereâ??s the possibility you could blow her straight to the negative plane. Also, like I said before, she just canâ??t handle the sunlight. She gets really stressed and canâ??t function when sheâ??s out in it ( screenshot ). Her strengths are: immunities to hold, charm, confusion, stun, and poison and her level drain. She also gets upgrades about every 1.5 million XP, which make her way more powerful. By the end of SoA, sheâ??ll have 21 STR, 20 DEX, 19 INT, and 18 CHA ( screenshot ), sheâ??ll regenerate about 1 HP/second and sheâ??ll drain 4 levels with each hit. Even Firkraag has only 23 levels, so if she hits him 6 times, heâ??s dead. Another innate ability she has, which is seriously exploitable, is the ability to turn into a gaseous form ( screenshot ) when she gets around 25% HP. In this form, she practically cannot be harmed. This means that for a particularly tough melee battle, you can have her run up, get pounded into mist, then when the baddie is concentrating harmlessly on Valen, your other characters can run up and whack at it for all theyâ??re worth. Luckily it gets switched off on hard difficulty or more (which any respectable BG2 player should be on when Valen is in the party.  )

As is Weimerâ??s style, Valenâ??s challenge was almost impossibly hard. Three Undead Hunters and a Cleric/Ranger ( screenshot ) , all of whom are Protected from the Undead, swoop in as soon as Valen hits 2.5 million XP and basically massacre her. Once you do finally defeat them though, you realize that for each one you killed, your reputation dropped 4 points. A lot of people arenâ??t so great at math, me included, so I whipped out my calculator to save you some time. 16 point reputation drop.. That bombshell is probably equivalent to the president getting caught in a motel with a dead hooker and a kilo of coke.

Bottom Line

This is a really good concept, with a great story and wonderfully original AI, but the fact of the matter is, is that she is so powerful that she makes even the most powerful enemies laughable. Her level drain is too powerful, her stats are crazy by the end of SoA, and sheâ??s immune to every disabling spell in the book. She can single-handedly take on Mind Flayers, with no buffs or special items.

Also, there is no way to develop her. The mod does it all automatically. You canâ??t choose anything with her when she upgrades, whether itâ??s which stats get boosted, or whether she gets better at dominating enemies vs. a better backstab multiplier. In my opinion, that is very, very bad. Basically, when she leveled up, I didnâ??t know what to do! I just threw away the proficiency points. In BG2, a whole lot of the fun is in simply getting new and better items and building your character. With Valen, the only thing I put on her throughout the whole game was a Cloak of Protection and a couple rings. I realize that this adds to the fact that, because of Valen chaotic personality, she should be uncontrollable, but this doesnâ??t change the fact that it seriously puts a damper on any replayability this mod mightâ??ve had.

Now donâ??t get me wrong. I really enjoyed playing this mod. I couldnâ??t wait to find out how Weimer would unravel the storyline (i.e. how is it that Valen, who serves her â??mistress and no otherâ? ends up staying with you to kill Bodhi?), which, I must say, he did masterfully. All Iâ??m saying is that I canâ??t see myself playing it again in the near future.

Overview

Pros: Interesting character & plotline, great AI, no bugs were encountered.
Cons: Overpowered/Unbalanced, limited replayability.

Rating: 6/10

Source

Offline Amy

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Re: Valen (BG2)
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2010, 03:13:16 PM »
Name: Valen (SoA)
Version: 45
Website: http://weidu.org/valen.html
Type: NPC
Score: 82%
Overview: The Valen NPC makes Valen, your contact with the rival guild, a possible party member.  Valen is a chaotic evil, thief/fighter vampire with ridiculously high stats and advantages, but at the cost of some serious disadvantages.  In comparison with many other NPC mods, Valen makes many sections of the games easier rather than harder, although there is a wealth of new additions to pose problems for her.  The real strength of the Valen NPC mod is its unique presentation of the NPCâ??s character through her in-game actions more than her dialogue.
Balance: 9/10
Valenâ??s stats are insane.  There is no other way to put it, she has high marks in every statistic and her stats increase as the game progresses.  Additionally she has the ability to level drain opponents and as the game progresses she can drain as many as four levels per hit.  Besides being able to level drain opponents she moves at incredible speed at night, outstripping any character not wearing boots of speed.  On top of all these advantages Valen even has a custom script that allows her to search for traps and remain hidden in shadows.  Furthermore she turns into gas form when lowered to 25% health.  So howâ??s all this balanced?  Valen has a serious aversion to sunlight, its not instant death thanks to some nifty armor, but I assure you she is toast in any daylight battles.  To counter her level drain you can install a component that gives more enemies immunity to level drain, but even without it you will still run into some challenging encounters.  Although it is almost impossible to actually kill Valen (enemies must kill her gaseous form) she cannot be revived which I believe is a reasonable enough counter balance.  The biggest balancing factor, though, is Valenâ??s attitude.  She will basically cause riots by munching on peasants, backtalking nobles, and laying waste to temples.  You may have a real tough character in Valen, but fighting your way every where and missing out on the â??Goodâ? quests and items is a tradeoff you have to be willing to take.
Creativity: 20/20
What I love about the Valen mod is its creativity â?? rather than emphasize the NPCâ??s character through parentheticals, or even dialogue, her character is displayed more through her actions (and not just quest-related actions).  Weimer has created an NPC that utilizes the gaming medium, other NPCs are revealed through that dialogue box on the bottom screen, heck even the Bioware ones tend to follow this pattern.  Weimerâ??s presentation of Valen is much different than any other NPC, but I would say to a large degree, his presentation is simply superior to the traditional â??read a bunch of dialogue on the bottom of the screen.â?  Even if you prefer the presentation of an NPC through the traditional manner, Valen should give you a refreshing change.
Dialogue & Quests: 18/20
Valen does not have many quests (I believe she only has one specific encounter) but she changes the outcome of many of the current ones and injects where appropriate.  The lack of a huge overarching quest may be a little disappointing (but not as disappointing as a poorly done overarching quest), but it keeps the focus on the main character and storyline. 
Integration: 42/50
The largest noticeable difference of Valen is her items.  Most of her special abilities are conferred by her items, which seems a little sloppy in terms of making her seamless integration into the game.  She also has little variety in voiceover which can become annoying (hearing â??I am hiddenâ? can be a little irritating after the 500th time).  Additionally her ability to hide in shadows and find traps seems a little on the excessive side.  Besides these few minor things I believe she integrates fairly well, her presence is reacted to a significant amount of characters throughout the game so she doesnâ??t feel left out.
Portrait: 8/10
The flower in her portrait seems a little out of place, but otherwise the portrait has fairly good proportions and fits in fairly well with Bioware NPC portraits.
Voicing: 10/20
Valen just uses a standard voiceset, and while not that great, it is still way better than a poor voiceset.